Yellowstone spill contaminates drinking water with carcinogen benzene

By Jim Morris

Authorities found the chemical, a component of crude oil, in drinking water downstream of an oil spill in Montana's Yellowstone River.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Montana":

"… e level for the chemical. …"

"… evels in a municipal drinking water system downstream of an oil spill into Montana’s Yellowstone River. The 50,000-gallon spill on January 17 occurred as a …"

"… a result of a pipeline break.  More than 5,000 residents of Glendive, Montana, have been warned not to drink or cook with city water until the benzene l …"

Environment stories you may have missed

By The Center for Public Integrity

We spent 2014 combing through legislation, documents and emissions data to investigate how big companies put people at risk.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Benzene":

"… eading 2. The $36 million 'research strategy' behind Benzene regulations Benzene, a known human carcinogen, has been the subject of scientific studies for …"

Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines, opens door for polluters

By Lisa Song and Rosalind Adams

Amid a fracking boom, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has quietly weakened air pollution guidelines for toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "ExxonMobil":

"… ts came from industry groups, including the American Chemistry Council and ExxonMobil. Adam Finkel, executive director of the University of Pennsylvania's Penn …"

Health worries pervade North Texas fracking zone

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

Some residents of the heavily fracked Barnett Shale in North Texas blame their health problems on toxic oil and gas emissions.

Excerpts from this story referencing "official":

"… longer-term exposure at four locations, but no one hastened to alert city officials. David Manis, a quality-assurance manager at the TCEQ, was so upset that …"

"… sures are very high exposures for short periods of time,” said Brown, an official at the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in the 199 …"

"… e Energy contended that it was grandfathered under older rules, and Denton officials said their hands were tied. EagleRidge, which didn’t respond to ca …"

Plant expansions fueled by shale gas boom to boost greenhouse gas, toxic air emissions

By Talia Buford

At least 120 planned plant expansions driven by the fracking boom collectively could release 130 million tons per year of greenhouse gases.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Florida":

"… ta. The three projects that have received final permits from regulators in Florida, Maryland and Louisiana have the potential to emit up to 7.5 million tons …"

New battlefront for petrochemical industry: benzene and childhood leukemia

By Kristen Lombardi

Jarrett McElheney grew up near a cluster of petroleum storage tanks. His parents believe benzene in drinking water gave him cancer.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Chemistry":

"… he API has financed additional work of his on benzene, as has the American Chemistry Council, the chemical industry’s main lobby. In a deposition taken last …"

A dozen dirty documents

By Kristen Lombardi and Jared Bennett

Twelve documents that stand out from the Center's new archive

Excerpts from this story referencing "Benzene":

"… 0 summary of the API’s research strategy, drafted by the group’s  Benzene Task Force, explains that the research program “is designed to protect m …"

"… rs of “personal injury claims,” an email exchange among members of the Benzene Health Research Consortium urges deletion of  “the reference to leg …"

Benzene and worker cancers: 'An American tragedy'

By Kristen Lombardi

Previously secret documents illuminate a 10-year effort by petrochemical titans to counteract damning science on the carcinogen benzene.

Excerpts from this story referencing "judge":

"… to AML essentially links it to all subtypes, including APL. The judge disagreed, ruling for the defendants. But the debate has stymied the case, …"

Internal documents reveal industry 'pattern of behavior' on toxic chemicals

By David Heath and Jim Morris

A new archive created by the Center and two universities will feature a trove of previously secret industry documents on toxic chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Louisiana":

"… year we reached out to William Baggett Jr., a lawyer in Lake Charles, Louisiana, who had acquired more than 400,000 pages of documents from a decade-long …"

Years after black lung claim was wrongly denied, coal miner gets his due

By Chris Hamby

After more than nine years of fighting, coal miner Steve Day was posthumously awarded federal black lung benefits.

Excerpts from this story referencing "lawyer":

"… iate and consistent with the medical evidence presented at the time." The lawyer representing the company, Paul Frampton of the firm Bowles Rice LLP, did n …"

Five-state study finds high levels of airborne chemicals near oil and gas sites

By Jamie Smith Hopkins

A study of air emissions near oil and gas wells found strikingly high levels of benzene and other dangerous chemicals in some locations.

Bill aims to stop coal companies from denying benefits to miners with black lung

By Chris Hamby

Two coal-state senators plan to introduce legislation to reform the federal benefits program for black lung victims.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Jay Rockefeller":

"… lation, sponsored by Sens. Robert Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, and Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, aims to put a stop to those strategies. "T …"

Ten major findings from our investigations so far this year

By Jared Bennett and Sarah Whitmire

Investigations from the first half of 2014

Excerpts from this story referencing "Medicare":

"… ut reporting to the state. Keep reading 6. About a third of all people on Medicare are covered by health plans that are susceptible to billing abuse Americ …"

"… ealth insurance plans are simply claiming they are. Our investigation into Medicare Advantage found that billions of tax dollars are wasted every year through …"

"… nd that billions of tax dollars are wasted every year through leakage of a Medicare payment tool called a “risk score.” The formula is supposed to pay hea …"

Critic of artificial sweeteners pilloried by industry-backed scientists

By Chris Young

Any criticism of the artificial sweetener industry is met with a barrage of criticism, often from questionable sources.

Excerpts from this story referencing "public relations":

"… y criticism. In fact, the Purdue University professor anticipates a swift public relations blitz from trade groups representing diet- and low-calorie food companies …"

"… ith an innocuous-sounding name, a long history and a penchant for stealthy public relations tactics. The organization, which is run by an account executive with …"

"… on, which is run by an account executive with a global management and public relations firm, represents the low- and reduced-calorie food and beverage industry. …"

"… tion. For one thing, it’s run by Kellen Company, a global management and public relations firm. Stevens, the Council’s president, is an account executive&nbs …"

Black lung claims by 1,100 coal miners may have been wrongly denied

By Chris Hamby

Black lung opinions by Dr. Paul Wheeler of Johns Hopkins should be assumed to lack credibility, senators are told at a hearing.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Chris Hamby":

"… is gaze to the senators, he said, "I look to you all to help us."   Chris Hamby, a former reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, now works for Buz …"

Even low doses of arsenic trigger cancer in mice, study finds

By David Heath

Study by the National Institutes of Health found levels of arsenic similar to what some people consume caused cancer in mice.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environmental Protection Agency":

"… rs in history. Extrapolating from those studies, scientists with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have tentatively concluded that arsenic is a serious problem at low doses. …"

How politics derailed EPA science on arsenic, endangering public health

By David Heath

A ban on arsenic-containing pesticides was lifted after a lawmaker disrupted a scientific assessment by the EPA.

Excerpts from this story referencing "House":

"… rs reviewing hundred of studies before sending a draft report to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget in October 2008. EPA scientists concl …"

"… s greater than any other toxin regulated by drinking-water laws. The White House at that point had become a nemesis of EPA scientists, requiring them to cl …"

"… ey were cherry-picking the data.” In August 2010, 15 Republicans in the House and Senate made that very argument in a letter to then-EPA Admin …"

"… ess to derail the EPA’s assessment. In July 2011, language appeared in a House Appropriations Committee report ordering the EPA to take no action on its …"

What to do if your drinking water contains arsenic

By David Heath

Millions of Americans unwittingly consume arsenic, a potent carcinogen also linked to IQ deficits in children, in their drinking water.

Excerpts from this story referencing "food":

"… enic is an element found in the Earth’s crust, and it finds its way into food, water, soil and air. In 2000, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency co …"

"… nate arsenic from your drinking water, you’ll still consume some in your food. Consumer Reports tested rice and rice products and found what i …"

Foul air in heavily fracked Texas county has couple looking for a way out

By Lisa Song

After 23 years in once-placid Karnes County, Texas, Lynn and Shelby Buehring say they're moving to escape toxic fumes from a fracking boom.

Energy Dept. confirms it's been on the wrong path since 2007

By Douglas Birch

A newly-released DOE study concludes the department can save billions by shelving a costly South Carolina nuclear fuel factory.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Russia":

"… f surplus weapons plutonium affordably, as part of a disarmament deal with Russia, has concluded what many experts long suspected: The cheapest option is to …"

"… e modifying the United States’ current plutonium disposal agreement with Russia. But assuming those hurdles could be overcome, the report said the burial …"

"… ned the project, led by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. The United States and Russia first signed a deal to each dispose of 34 tons of their weapons plutonium …"

"… a pact brokered by Moniz, then working for the Energy department. But the Russians chafed at the United States’ insistence that they not be allowed to us …"

Deadly Texas fertilizer plant explosion blamed on regulatory failures

A 2013 blast at West Fertilizer that killed 14 "never should have occurred," Chemical Safety Board chairman says.

Herbicide ban on hold in Sri Lanka, as source of deadly kidney disease remains elusive

By Sasha Chavkin

After Sri Lanka's announced ban on a Monsanto herbicide, opponents challenged the action and convinced the president to put the ban on hold.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Sri Lanka":

"… . …"

"… a setback to efforts by some scientists and health officials, primarily in Sri Lanka and El Salvador, to remove the herbicide for its potential link to the mys …"

"… sands of agricultural workers. Monsanto, other agrochemical producers and Sri Lankan officials, including Registrar of Pesticides Anura Wijesekara, have pushe …"

"… orm of kidney disease devastating agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. Scientists suspect the malady is caused by a combination of fac …"

Tough new fracking rules in Colorado drawing keen attention in Texas, where boom rages on

By Zahra Hirji, Lisa Song and Jim Morris

Air pollution rules adopted last month in Colorado may have an impact on oil and gas drilling in Texas.

Excerpts from this story referencing "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency":

"… e benzene, a known carcinogen. The rules exceed regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, which won't fully be implemented until 2015. The EPA rules don't …"

Sri Lanka bans Monsanto herbicide citing potential link to deadly kidney disease

By Sasha Chavkin

Sri Lanka orders ban on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, citing kidney disease outbreak; Monsanto said the evidence is unproven.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Sri Lanka":

"… e chemical may be linked to a kidney disease killing agricultural workers, Sri Lanka this week ordered a ban on glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto …"

"… rbicide Roundup. The move comes weeks after publication of a new study in Sri Lanka suggesting glyphosate as the leading culprit for the illness. The paper di …"

"… t has killed tens of thousands of agricultural workers in Central America, Sri Lanka and India. The malady is suspected by scientists to be caused by a combina …"

"… its origins have yet to be fully uncovered. Wednesday’s announcement by Sri Lanka was the most dramatic measure taken to date to combat the illness. The leg …"

Nuclear Waste: Energy Department proposes to kill multi-billion dollar nuclear fuel plant

By Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith

The costliest U.S. nonproliferation program has been undone by huge cost overruns.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Lindsey Graham":

"… by South Carolina’s congressional delegation. South Carolina Senators Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, both Republicans, did not immediately respond to requests f …"

Nuclear Waste: Auditors find continuing mismanagement at nuclear fuel plant

By Douglas Birch

The GAO complains anew about DOE's unwillingness to investigate cost increases at the MOX plant, and learn from its mistakes there

Excerpts from this story referencing "Savannah River Site":

"… truction of the Mixed Oxide or MOX fuel plant, which is located at DOE’s Savannah River Site, pending a review of alternatives for disposing of the plutonium. NNSA of …"

Nuclear Waste: Cost of South Carolina fuel plant goes up by billions of dollars — again

By R. Jeffrey Smith and Douglas Birch

The MOX plant may cost another $30 billion to complete and operate, and federal officials are newly wary.

Excerpts from this story referencing "South Carolina":

"… ment has concluded that completing a controversial nuclear fuel factory in South Carolina may cost billions of dollars more than the department has previously promi …"

EPA abandons major radiation cleanup in Florida, despite cancer concerns

By Douglas P. Guarino

Federal agency abandons phosphate-mining clean-up, leaving more than 100,000 residents at risk of exposure to cancer-causing radiation.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Environmental Protection Agency":

"… ent if I was on that side," said the source. "You'd be stupid not to." …"

"… but the agency took no action and residential development continued. The Environmental Protection Agency paid little attention to the Lakeland area sites until the new millennium, …"

Top environment investigations from 2013

By The Center for Public Integrity

In case you missed it, here are some of our favorite environment and workers' rights investigations from 2013.

High bladder cancer rate shrouds New York plant, exposing chemical hazards in the workplace

By Jim Morris

A decades-long spate of bladder cancer at a Goodyear plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y. spotlights limits of regulation over dangerous chemicals.

Excerpts from this story referencing "Europe":

"… onal Labour Office in Geneva summarized the findings of Rehn and others in Europe, deeming it “absolutely necessary that in factories in which workers are …"

"… it from countries such as Germany, China and India. The compound is on the European Chemicals Agency’s version of a blacklist, along with 143 other “sub …"